Host cells interact with bacterial pathogens in a milieu dominated not only by chemical but also mechanical signals, including those imposed on them by the extracellular environment (e.g. shear flows) or neighboring cells. The Bastounis lab aims at revealing (i) how bacteria hijack host cellular forces to facilitate their spread, and (ii) which biomechanical strategies host cells use to obstruct bacterial dissemination. To do so, the lab uses a multidisciplinary research approach, including devices that closely mimic in vivo tissue (patho)physiology. Through their research Bastounis and her team envision discovering both, novel biomechanical virulence mechanisms and new aspects of host cell and tissue mechanobiology.
Dr. Efthimia Bastounis
Effie is interested in how mechanical forces affect the interaction of human host cells with bacterial pathogens. After a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and a PhD in Bioengineering, Effie was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford Biochemistry. There, she primarily studied how intracellular bacterial pathogens infect and spread through vascular endothelial cells. Since March 2021, she leads a junior research group in the Cluster of Excellence CMFI. Her group combines engineering, microscopy, cell biology, and microbiology to understand basic cell mechanobiology and the biomechanical signals that influence interactions between host cells and pathogens.